The Potholes In The Road To Success

It’s hard to make a comeback when you haven’t been anywhere.

For several years now, in numerous Tuesday Tips, I’ve written about professional success and personal achievement. I’ve outlined exactly what you have to do to become a winner, a champion, and a positive thinker.

However, the road to success is filled with potholes. You will encounter obstacles and experience setbacks. You will make some mistakes and have some failures…. because the road to success will never be straight, smooth, and unobstructed all the time.

And all truly successful people know that…

=> 1. Mistakes and failures are simply a part of the journey to success.

George Washington knew that. Even though he is known as a brilliant general, he only won two battles in his whole career.

Thomas Edison was thrown out of elementary school when his teachers decided he could not do the work. And when he want trying to invent electric light, he made thousands of “mistakes” before he had any success.

Gail Borden made countless business blunders before he achieved success with condensed milk. Levi Strauss made the mistake of selling his entire supply of dry goods, leaving him with nothing but canvas to manufacture pants.

R. H. Macy failed seven times before his store in New York City caught on. Novelist John Creasey got 753 rejection slips before he published the first of his 564 books.

Harry S. Truman failed as a haberdasher. Milton Hershey failed more than once in the candy-making business before finding success with the Hershey bar. And when Bob Dylan performed a high school talent show, his classmates booed him off the platform.

So if you’ve made a mistake or two or thousand, I say, “Congratulations. You’re in great company. If nothing else, you’re on the road to success.” As one person said, “Everyone is a darn fool for at least 5 minutes every day. Wisdom consists in not exceeding this limit.”

You see…

=> 2. Successful people keep on taking action … despite their mistakes.

There are very few if any ways to be an instant success without making your share of mistakes. But successful people are successful because they adhere to a little-known secret. They know their ultimate success has more to do with how many actions they take than the mistakes they make.

Success is connected to action. Successful people keep moving. They make mistakes but they don’t quit. Tammy Williams learned that when she came to my two-day “Journey To The Extraordinary” experience. She wrote, “As a result of your class, I have taken some major risks in the last few months. I quit my job as a Sales Engineer for a construction company, got myself back into school, and accepted a position with a church. Your class helped me look inside to see what is really important and how I wanted to live the second half of my life. Thank you for this amazing experience and the knowledge you shared. You gave me the support and courage I needed to take all these risks. And as a result, this has become my best year ever!”

The same goes for you. This can be your best year ever, and the second half of your life can be the best half … if you take some action.

Bottom line … successful people know the value of taking action … despite their mistakes or setbacks. As President Franklin Roosevelt said, “It is common sense to take a method and try it. If it fails, admit it frankly and try another. But above all, try something.”

And Benjamin Franklin, one of this country’s greatest figures, once said, “The man who does things makes many mistakes, but he never makes the biggest mistake of all — doing nothing.”

That’s because …

=> 3. Your response to your mistake is more important than the mistake itself.

The author Joseph Fort Newton wrote about that. He said, “We cannot tell what may happen to us in the strange medley of life. But we can decide what happens in us … how we can take it, what we can do with it … and that is what really counts in the end.”

Absolutely. Some people make a mistake or have a setback, and they give up. Other people who experience the same difficulty get charged up to do something about it. That’s why master juggler Rob Peck says, “Disappointments are the pits. But pits are also seeds!” That’s why Peck says, “To err is human … to recover divine!” So true.

So when troubles come your way, look at your response. Do you get depressed, lose your self-esteem, or find yourself demoitvated? Do you blame someone else or try to justify your behavior? Well none of that works. As a French proverb goes, “Justifying a fault doubles it.”

Accept the fact you made a mistake and not a disaster. And if you need to get by the negative self-talk that often goes with making a mistake, get a copy of my MP3 recording called “Self-Esteem: When You Tune Up Your Image You Turn Up Your Results”

so you can …

=> 4. Learn from your mistakes.

The truth is … everyone makes mistakes. But the key distinguishing factor between a winner and a loser is the fact the winner LEARNS from his mistakes. Charles Garfield reported that in his classic book on “Peak Performers.” He noted, “When high achievers get less than the results they plan for and work toward, they allow the normal human feelings of disappointment, or anger, or fatigue to pass; then they start analyzing. They search for information in the situation: Where are we now? What went wrong? Why? Where are we headed? How do we get there? Even when circumstances are totally beyond their control, peak performers learn what they can from an experience so as not to knock their heads against that wall again.”

Mistakes and failures CAN be helpful. And winners LEARN from them. As author Brian Tracy notes, “The difficulties that we have to face in life are put on our path not to obstruct … but to instruct.”

Tom Watson, Sr., exemplified that in his leadership style. As the guiding hand in the success of IBM for forty years, he knew the value of learning from mistakes. One year a young executive was given responsibility for a project that cost over $10 million. As it turned out, the idea failed, and when the young man was called in, he offered his resignation. “You can’t be serious,” said Watson. “We just spent $10 million educating you.”

Even the folk humorist Will Rogers knew about the potential value of mistakes. He said, “Good judgment comes from experience, and a lot of that comes from bad judgment.”

As you pursue your dreams and goals, just remember, it’s better to attempt something great and fail than attempt nothing and succeed.

Action:  Write down three mistakes you’ve made … or failures you’ve experienced … in the last month. And write down what you learned from each of those situations.